Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Family bonding during Chinese New Year should go beyond reunion dinners and ang pow and should also include saying "I love you" to each other.
That is the message that a video by a local advertising agency is hoping to spread this Lunar New Year.
Naga DBB executive creative director Alvin Teoh said through the video, they hoped to make people realise how impactful telling their family that they love them could be.
"We don't have a culture of saying I love you' to our parents. We show piety by sending back money, going back for family reunions or going on holiday with our folks," he said.
In the video, the team travels to eight towns Ipoh, Penang, Teluk Intan, Puchong, Seremban, Muar and Batu Pahat to send a love message from 10 children to their parents.
Copywriter Raphael Ang said the project was titled "Ai Le You" a play on words, which literally translated means "love, music, journey" but also sounds like "I love you".
"We were thinking of how to make the delivery of the message more interesting and thought it would be easier to sing from the heart than to speak from it," he said.
The score for the video was prepared by composer Chee Meng, who drew inspiration from old Mandarin and Hokkien songs.
To aid the crew, the song was played live as they sang the messages.
Brand executive Jia Ling was chosen as the voice of the "singing telegram" though she joked that she was more of a "bathroom singer".
"I don't know how to read or speak Chinese, so we spent all the time between towns rehearsing the songs that I must sing. I was terrified of mispronouncing the words and ruining the message," she said.
The video was shot from Jan 24 till 27, by way of a road trip, where the team of 11 people travelled in a van throughout most of peninsular Malaysia to meet the different families.
Teoh said the most difficult home was the first one because they did not know what to expect.
"Surprisingly, the families were very open and willing to share their stories. We tried to be sensitive but I felt a bit guilty shoving a camera in their faces when they were crying even though that was the heart of the story," he said.
Teoh said one of the most emotional visits was to the seventh home, where they delivered a message from a daughter to her mother, meant for her deceased father.
"It works both ways, when a child tells the parents they love them, parents may finally share what they are feeling too," he said.
"Even if they don't literally say I love you', hopefully they will visit or call their parents more often.
"We were also touched by the humility of all parents that we visited, their simplicity, their tremendous sacrifices and love," he said.